Thursday, April 28, 2011


I watched it all day on the radar feed from NOAA. A string of severe thunderstorms running across the southeastern U.S, nearly a solid line running to the northeast. What was unusual about this is that instead of the cells being painted in the usual yellow and orange, there were a lot of them imaged in deep red and magenta. Also present was an unusually high number of tornado warnings, solidly spread across numerous radar zones.

Even areas where the warnings were limited to severe thunderstorms and flash flooding, it was obvious that a lot of people were getting their asses handed to them.

I knew lives were being changed, some irreparably, as I watched the weather data from my garage/den, safely located almost two thousand miles away. I thought about the first responders and how adverse weather always affects their operations and how it doesn't take a tornado to make their shift a nightmare.

Daylight revealed a death toll of over 200 across several states.That number will likely rise as areas are searched and victims are found. Some of you probably experienced it or a taste of it. To you my heartfelt respect and condolences, disasters truly suck. I know that Tuscaloosa AL was hit especially hard, I have a few readers from there - I hope they made it through O.K.'s "The Big Picture" posted 23 images of the devastation, the images captured the human side of natures fury.

It looks like most of the affected areas are getting a break today, the squall lines have moved east and have reduced in intensity.

Days like yesterday show mankind who really is in charge.

Thanks for reading, Schmoe


  1. I tell you, Capt. Schmoe, as a resident of Tornado Alley, these images make my toes curl. Incredible powerful storms. I hope everyone who heard warnings heeded them--the loss of life bothers me in that we usually have pretty good warnings and chances to take cover in this area.

    Thanks for the post.
    The Observer

  2. I wonder Observer, if some underestimated the number and severity of the storms. It sure looked ugly on the radar, I can't imagine what is was like on the ground.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Living in the southeast and having faced these storms yesterday I think that was a finger of god situation. A large number of these storms developed F5's and F4 size storms. The one that hit in Tuscaloosa Alabama (probably mis-spelling the name) was close to a mile wide. When that hits a house without a basement it is basically a kiss your butt and say good bye situation.

  4. Michael - There was a picture in that series of a set of concrete steps - not much more. The steps had apparently belonged to a mobile or manufactured home which had been completely swept away. I'm guessing no basement involved either. I hope the residents made it.

  5. I grew up in Birmingham. Still have family there and thankfully all are safe. Some even have power. Seeing place I remember from childhood scoured flat is truly sobering.

    Also, noticed some of the fine lads of Birmingham Fire & Rescue Service in pic 22. A great bunch of guys and gals that have earned my gratitude and respect more than once. (Probably should give a shout out to the crews of Center Point Station 4. They spent a lot of nights working MVAs in front of our old house out in Clay)

    Thanks for the post Cap.


  6. BGM - I am sure that Birmingham and a bunch of other departments earned their pay over the last few days. I am sure most serve in or near the communities where they live. They, as you, must be horrified to see the damage to places that they care about and must be concerned about family and friends.

    Glad all of yours are safe, thanks for the comment.

  7. Captain,

    Been meaning to comment for several days. I appreciated your thoughtful blog post when I read it in my feed.

    I had just spent the day as PIO at a tornado touchdown scene in my county in western VA, so your timeliness was perfect.

    We had an F2 twister strike about 2:30 a.m. It started in the county to our south and traveled 33 miles on the ground, mostly in our county.

    We were fortunate to have only two injuries. It was a rural area, and most of the residences there were second homes. It pales in comparison to Alabama's, but still, it was frightening stuff.

  8. JCollins - F2, 0230, 35 miles on the ground and only 2 injuries. Fortunate indeed, bordering on miraculous.

    Even though the injuries were few, I am sure it was a long, grueling night for you, the command staff and for the troops in the field - props to you all.

    Thanks for the comment.